If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Let me get this out of the way: the game looks great. It's one of the best looking games that has ever been crafted, in terms of capturing 'realism,' and proudly wears it on its shoulder. Particle effects and terrific lighting litter the landscape, and you'll find yourself stopping to take in the scenery even at the expense of getting reacquainted with your childhood friend, Mr. Bulletwound, during the middle of a firefight. Besides that...wow, is this game a let-down.
For those of you not in the know, Crysis was a game on the PC that touted amazing graphics, however, you had to borrow the Large Hadron Collider to get it up and running properly. The game was treated more like a tech-demo than an actual virtual outing. The developers, Crytek Frankfurt, have promised to create a better single-player experience on this multi-platform game along with delivering a game that can actually run the CryEngine 3 Engine without causing your 360 to explode. Well, they got some of their promises right. The engine does run pretty smoothly on the 360, although there are noticeable hiccups of screen tearing and pop-in textures which really take you out of seeing the wonder of the destruction around you.
However, the single-player, for lack of a better saying, is slapped together and tragically handled. There's no character depth whatsoever to anybody in the game; constantly, you'll have the "Black Hawk Down" syndrome where you'll have no idea who's talking to you or what their motivations are in the story. The only character you'll ever actually be able to discern from the throngs of bland meat-vessels is the sole chick, but that's only because the developers felt like a female presence was absolutely needed. See The Smurfette Principle for more on that topic.
What's the story? I played through the entire thing, and I still couldn't tell you. It's something concerning an alien virus that turns people into aliens, but it only selects certain individuals and they've been apart of our planet for a long time and...screw it. There's no story here. Just transitional pieces that bring you from point A to point B. I thought we were past this in first-person shooters where there could be deeper storytelling than just 'shoot that guy, and blow this shit up,' but I guess I was terribly mistaken. Not that Crytek didn't try copying every successful first-person shooter franchise out there for the game; when it's not trying to imitate Modern Warfare, it tries to be more like Half-Life 2. When Half-Life 2 doesn't seem to suffice, it attempts to rip out story ideas from Halo. What's worse is that it commits the biggest sin of first-person shooters - a silent protagonist. Barring Portal and BioShock, the majority of silent protagonists are mishandled terribly and doesn't add anything to the game other than providing an easy way to just bark orders at the player for them to follow.
The gameplay is standard fare with some interesting tweaks that don't really go anywhere. Your Nanosuit has the ability to switch between a heavy armor, stealth, and agile mode at the touch of a button. It's just too bad the customization system doesn't follow through with the initial premise of the suit. There's a couple of tiers of upgrading the suit, but it doesn't fundamentally change anything should you desire to just fly through the game with you primary suit. The shooting segments are competent enough, but damn, is the A.I. finicky. At one moment they'll be stalking you behind a turned over truck, the next, they'll be attempting to run through said truck with no success. There's no excuse for having so many glitches with the A.I. for a game with this big of a budget. You can also pick up items and use them in combat, such as explosive barrels, but because you can only throw them about five inches in front of you, it's suggested that you just stick to your guns when the bullets start flying. The enemy types are pretty recycled so if you're looking for diversity, you might want to seek it elsewhere. Other review sites say that the game (compared to other FPS of these days) is satisfyingly long with about 12 hours of gametime, but you soon realize that it's all padded out.
Because of the physics system, you'll encounter strange invisible walls in the game where you can, in theory, easily jump over it, but apparently God forbids it. Because of the frequently enclosed architecture, there are also moments where you'll be constantly hitting your head against the ceiling making you seem less like a imposing marine and more like a bumbling stooge. This may seem like a strange gripe, but I also have to comment on the extreme lack of in-world advertising. Why do I complain about this? It's because it's New York. There's advertising every other foot you walk. Apparently in the future, there are only 5 companies left to advertise their goods, and one of them is Crytek (their slogan is the hypocritical 'Go Out and Play' sign). The bright part of the entire ordeal is the multiplayer where you can jump in with other Nanosuit-wearing thespians of gunnery. Tragically, you'll have to grind through a good amount before all the modes and extra assortment of goodies can be unlocked, and for this writer, that's a damn old game design that I want gone.
Crysis 2 is an extremely disappointing game. What it offers has been done before and done better. Unless you just want pretty graphics, there's no real reason for you to pick up this game. In fact, I would say this game is the summation of what I fear first-person shooters will attempt to aim for in the future. It's a mere lump of soulless clay that attempts to be everything that has come before and fails miserably.
My Rating: AVOID
And what the hell is up with that terrible hip-hop rendition of "New York, New York?"